Growth Mindset: The Path to Success

Our latest inset day focused on the growth mindset. The concept of growth mindset is attributed to Carol Dweck. In The New Psychology of Success, Dweck says students can be described according to how they view their own success. Some (fixed mindset) believe success is the result of innate ability. We encounter students every day who claim they simply are not good at Maths or that they can’t succeed in a certain subject as their parents were bad in it too when they were at school. Other students (growth mindset) view success as the result of hard work, learning and determination.

“Students become afraid of failing. They stop taking risks.”

Dweck recognizes people have different abilities but says that by praising a pupil for being clever we are simply reinforcing the fixed mindset. Students then become afraid of failing, afraid of showing their weaknesses. They stop taking risks. Meanwhile those that ultimately do succeed do take risks and accept challenges. They may not have greater ability than their peers, they simply have a different mindset. They listen to feedback, know their weaknesses and are keen to learn what it takes to progress. While this has implications on the sort of feedback we should give our students the big question is – How can we foster this growth mindset in our students?

We need to make school more relevant. Students need to be aware of what they can and can’t do – and how to improve. Formative assessment can and is being used in our school to encourage a shift to growth mindset.

“FAIL simply stands for First Attempt In Learning”

The first principle of growth mindset is to try new approaches. As teachers everyday is both literally and figuratively a school day: we are learners too. We must also be willing to make mistakes – after all, as I tell my students, FAIL simply stands for First Attempt In Learning.

My Tech Tool workshop looked at experimenting with new ways of doing things in the classroom.

The session looked at add-ons, extensions and apps (tools which add extra functionality to the software we currently use). We began by discussing some of the challenges in using technology in the classroom and sharing some successes too, notably Socrative (a tool I demoed last time round).

I presented some of my current favourites: Mindmeistergoo.glsplitnames and Screencastify. Once staff were set free to explore the Chrome Store excitement peaked and we added some more useful tools to a collaborative Google slide presentation.

Ewan McIntosh has an apt mountaineering analogy which captures how we may have felt surrounded by all these new tools. When approaching the summit of one mountain a climber will look out and see all the other peaks they would like to ascend. The danger is they never finish climbing one mountain before they are distracted by new challenges. It’s something I am frequently guilty of and so I advise everyone to focus only on one tool from the Chrome store – for now.

We will get a chance to share and evaluate these tools and more over the coming months and I am interested in hearing how my colleagues implement them in their teaching. I suspect that the various mountain tops in view will result in our group splitting up into distinct parties. I hope to be a useful Sherpa and if need be, I’m willing to head up the search party should anyone get lost.

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